Thank you for the opportunity to submit a monthly column for the Red Deer Advocate. Over the course of the year, I hope to address various issues the citizens of Red Deer raise with city council throughout our conversations in the community.
In the city’s last citizen satisfaction survey, our citizens identified crime and public safety as the number one priority concern of Red Deerians. Citizens often wonder if their feedback in various city surveys, open houses, or through other means has much influence, and I can confidently tell you that it absolutely does. It’s fair to say that public safety is always a consistent priority for our public, but it has recently become even more so, especially given the recent increase in property crimes in our community.
Cities all across our province are facing crime challenges as the “new economic normal” is most unfortunately resulting in social consequences for our communities. In recent months, council has elevated public safety in our work plan, so I thought I’d provide an update with some of the initiatives we have underway.
Council recently met with former Deputy Commissioner Marianne Ryan and other representatives from K-Division to identify for the RCMP the specific crime and enforcement challenges Red Deer is experiencing as a regional hub city central on the QEII corridor. We are also meeting regularly with local Superintendent Ken Foster to identify our community’s crime challenges and potential solutions for their resolution.
Red Deer has experienced strong progress in recent years on the organized crime front through our local partnership with ALERT and the regional task force; we continue, however, to experience significant issues with property crime. The RCMP and city recently launched “Project Pinpoint,” a new strategy which focuses on apprehending prolific offenders (among other initiatives); This program is beginning to show positive results with respect to addressing property crime. Local police have also partnered recently with “Citizens on Patrol” to launch “Lock it or Lose it,” an initiative to assist citizens in crime prevention through target hardening. Police are also elevating downtown foot patrols to ensure enforcement presence is available during peak times.
Over the next few months, council will be updating our Annual Police Plan objectives as well as deliberating ways we can improve police response to “non-urgent” calls (often referred to as “Priority 3 and 4” calls). We also continue to implement the various objectives adopted in our Community Safety Plan which was recommended to us by a citizen panel, in addition to numerous upcoming initiatives that will come forward as a result of partnerships with various community organizations and multi-departmental task forces.
I hope this helps to answer some of your questions until next month. As always, Council thanks you for the ongoing opportunity to represent you. We look forward to seeing you all in the near future and hearing about what is important to citizens in our community.
Until next time…
Mayor Tara Veer